Courtesy of the Yale Dramatic Association

This fall, the Yale University Dramatic Association initiated its “BIPOC Theatremakers Series” — an open call to theater-related work generated by Yale’s BIPOC community. 

The series supports any form of theater that can be shown on an online platform. The organization, the Dramat’s website says, is committed to supporting artists by accepting every proposal provided the artist identifies as BIPOC. Projects span a wide range of forms, including a voice-acting project for a visual novel, a digital humanities project involving an algorithmically derived script and a mixed-media murder mystery experience. 

“The Dramat has been reflecting about how we’ve served the BIPOC community of Yale in the past, and to be completely honest and truthful, we found [ourselves] very lacking,” said Mikaela Boone ’22, president of the Dramat. “Our original programming was never going to happen as it was planned. It was going to be a year of flux anyway.”

Even though the Dramat hopes to produce projects on a monthly basis this fall, not all works will be produced as some pieces may not be ready by the end of the semester. Dramat Production Officer Adam Wassilchalk ’23, a co-facilitator of the series, said that most works are still in their early stages of development. He wants to leave space for the projects to evolve and grow with time.

But there is an added incentive for artists to produce work this fall: The Dramat will award a $500 stipend to every series contributor and an extra $250 to artists whose projects culminate in a public showing. This money can be used at the artist’s discretion, Boone said. Since the pandemic cost many students their jobs, she hopes the stipend will make it easier for Yale’s BIPOC artists to continue creating.

Wassilchalk will assist artists throughout the process by promoting performances and production opportunities, connecting less-experienced playwrights with mentors and providing teams with technology and software training. Wassilchalk said he is most excited by proposals that fall outside “traditional confines of theater-making,” such as the visual novel and murder mystery experience.

Diza Hendrawan ’25, a first year taking a gap year, is currently working on a digital theater play for the series. She plans to use digital platforms, including FaceTime, Zoom and other social media, to create a new theater experience. 

The premise for the piece is a video call between friends who wake up after having both blacked out for 24 hours. While Hendrawan will use FaceTime to convey most of the piece’s dialogue, she hopes to add visual supplements via text and Snapchat pop-ups. 

Aïssa Guindo ’21, Josh Gonzalez ’23 and Alaina Anderson ’21 are working together on a visual novel game based on Python — a computer programming language — titled “Real to Me” as their contribution to the series. Guindo described the game as “meta in almost every sense of the word.” She added that the work has many parallels to more traditional theater; the game features real people voice-acting roles, a process Guindo likened to directing a play.

For KG Montes ’22, the series is an opportunity to explore a show she wrote last year in a class called “Advanced Theater Writing.” Montes, a former member of Dramat’s executive board, said she is proud of what thesSeries means for the Dramat in terms of doing better by Yale’s BIPOC community.

“In partnering with BIPOC creators of this community through this initiative, I feel that the Dramat is moving forward in a really positive way,” Montes said.

The Dramat is accepting proposals through Sept. 30. Those interested should email theatremakers@yaledramat.org.

Annie Radillo | annie.radillo@yale.edu